Newsletter : 6fax1010.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Oct. 10, 1996 V4, #184
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Mideast Shakes, Rattles and Bagels
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem), Jennifer Griffin (VOA-Nicosia)
An earthquake measuring 6.1 On the Richter scale shook the Middle
East Wednesday afternoon, swaying buildings from Nicosia to Beirut,
Jerusalem and Cairo. No serious damage or injuries have so far
Israel's Geophysical Institute reports the quake was centered in
the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Cyprus, about 185 miles from
both Tel Aviv and Cairo. In Cairo and Nicosia, panicked residents
ran out of swaying buildings.
At the Associated Press office in Nicosia, file drawers were thrown
open and plaster fell off the walls. In Cairo, residents said the
quake was felt for as long as two full minutes.
The tremor was also felt throughout Israel and the Palestinian
territories. At least one building was evacuated in Tel Aviv.
In Jerusalem, the quake was weaker, rattling shutters and
slightly moving wheeled furniture. There was no report of
damage to any of the city's ancient holy sites.
The earthquake was also felt in Ramallah and Bethlehem, and at
the site of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the Israel-Gaza
Farther north, the quake shook buildings in Beirut and other
coastal Lebanese cities. It was also felt in the Greek and Turkish
islands in the Mediterranean.
Earthquakes hit the Middle East from time to time. A strong one a
year ago caused damage in southern Israel and Jordan. In 1992, 500
people died and thousands were injured when a large quake hit
In Nicosia, it was like a scene from a Hollywood movie. The walls
suddenly began to shake. Glasses rattled and plaster cracked. But
the buildings were not the only things that trembled. People
throughout the city ran outside from their homes and evacuated
office buildings, for fear the structures might collapse.In offices
around the city, file cabinets flew open and elevators jammed.
Welcome to the Palestine International Airport
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Gaza)
One of the issues on the negotiating table between Palestinians and
Israelis is implementation of the agreement on airports and landing
strips in Gaza and the West Bank. For Palestinians, it will be
their direct link to the outside. For Israel, it is a security
issue. VOA correspondent Laurie Kassman in Gaza discussed the
issue with the Palestinian chief of civil aviation.
The roadside billboard en route to the Egyptian border advertises
Gaza's new international airport. Turn left, and a few minutes
down a recently paved road there it is, tucked into the corner of
Gaza that touches on Egypt and Israel, under the shadow of Israeli
watchtowers in what was once an olive grove.
So far it is little more than a runway. Workmen are finishing the
control tower. The low, gracefully-arched terminal building and
VIP lounge should be finished by April.
Fayez Zaidan is the Palestinian director general of civil aviation
and he proudly guides visitors up and down the runway of what he
calls Palestine International Airport.
It is a dream come true for the former pilot who fought alongside
Yasir Arafat for nearly three decades. He says he started planning
the airport on the day the 1991 Madrid Conference opened to launch
the peace process.
Zaidan proudly displays photos of the first of two 50-passenger
prop-jets donated by the Netherlands. They will be used for
flights to Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, and eventually as air
taxis to link Gaza with the West Bank.
Palestinian Airlines is painted in English script on the side of
the plane, just above the red, white, green, and black stripes of
the Palestinian flag -- yet another symbol of the Palestinian
dream of statehood.
He says the runway is built to handle heavy wide-body passenger
airliners and cargo. His goal is 500,000 passengers a year.
Zaidan says there is a touch of irony in watching Palestinians,
once denounced as hijackers and air pirates, planning their own
airline and building their own airport. Times have changed and
maybe, he says, that is why the airport policy will be never to let
any hijacked aircraft land here.
New: A Muslim Hall of Prayer in the Knesset Building
A Muslim mosque was inaugurated in the Knesset building Tuesday.
The Al-Haq Mosque ("The Mosque of Law"), a special room of prayer
for Muslim Knesset members, was opened in a modest ceremony, during
which the Speaker of the House bared his feet in accordance with
Muslim tradition. Blue prayer rugs have been spread out on the
room's floor, and a picture of the Dome of the Rock Mosque adorns
one of its walls.
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